I’m not entirely sure if I completely understand why, but I’ve observed a trend that to me is both surprising and frightening when it comes to skill sets found in today’s marketers. I will even go as far as to say that it’s not just limited to new marketers, but to seasoned professionals at director level as well. Maybe the recession damaged our courage, maybe we’ve grown too easily intimidated, whatever the case may be I know that it must be addressed immediately.
I’m talking about negotiation. It seems as if a critical component to a successful marketer has been completely removed from job descriptions. I can’t understand why a valuable asset to the company is not required to have demonstrated negotiation skills. If you’re a marketer you understand that it is your job to effectively select the most promising technology that will accelerate your endeavors. If you’re a marketer, you also understand that this technology as well as your advertising channels, can be expensive. I’m amazed at the lack of negotiation when it comes to selecting these critical partners while planning the overall marketing strategy.
Let me explain. Negotiation, I should say effective negotiation, should be done with both your goals and the vendors goals in mind. In other words, you shouldn’t beat your vendor to hell. Set a realistic expectation for what you can afford, and what you feel is fair for the vendor. For example, an increasingly popular tool for marketers are marketing automation platforms. These can typically cost between $800 and $1500 a month, not to mention you’re required to sign a contract. In my experience, I know that contracts, especially long-term, can freeze limited and important marketing dollars for extended periods of time – not to mention the liability you’re committing to.
Both the price of the product and the contract length are always negotiable. You should never, ever, agree to do business with someone if they’re not willing to negotiate with you to meet your needs. Your responsibility is not limited to selecting the best tools to get the job done. In fact, it’s also your responsibility to ensure that you’re doing so as if you were spending your own money.
Think about it like this, when you’re buying a car or a home or anything for that matter that typically involves negotiation, do you roll over or do you negotiate based on your needs? If my monthly budget for a new car is $400 a month, but the payment I’m presented with is $500, not only do I not have the money, but I’m not necessarily willing to spend that much on a monthly basis for that particular vehicle. In that scenario, I would negotiate. So my question to marketers today, is why aren’t you negotiating with your vendors?
Again, it should be fair. When I gave my example I didn’t say my budget was $400 a month but I was looking to buy a Mercedes that would typically cost $900 a month. Know the tools that you’re selecting, and the vendors you’re partnering with, and it’s important to ensure that you have done your research and understand what the typical investment or contract length is for that particular product. This doesn’t always apply, and it especially isn’t necessary for resources that are reasonably priced. My point is this, if you’re willing to negotiate the price of a car based on the money that you’re spending, why are you not willing to negotiate the expense of a tool that you need to get your job done effectively? Keep in mind that you aren’t paying for it, this should be the very reason that you’re conscientious of your decisions.
I don’t know what happened along the way, but I want to challenge you to start negotiating when it comes to making purchase decisions. Man up and don’t be afraid to ask for something. What’s the worst that can happen? At least you can say you tried.
Have fun and good luck. Have a question? Disagree? Want to exchange pleasentries? Leave a comment below. As always, you can reach me on Twitter @joshuahays or by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org